Most people who are new to a yoga or fitness routine, no matter what age group, will always refer to how their back isn’t flexible or strong enough to hold a pose, lift a weight, or do one more rep. 

In part one (and part two!) of this series, we’ll be covering ways that you can work on your back flexibility through various yoga poses 

Downward Facing Dog:

This pose we all know: hands and feet on the floor and body in the shape of an upside-down V. Downward facing dog on its own will give you a great stretch through your back if you keep your upper limbs more or less straight. Take a bent knee in this pose to modify. 

Seated Spinal Twist:

In a seated position, cross your right leg over your left, bring your right knee in towards your chest and pressing your right foot as much into the mat as you can. Your left leg can extend long or bent, whatever feels right for you. Place your right hand on the floor behind your back. Keeping an extended left arm, twist and bring that arm to the outside of your right knee. Feel free to bend that elbow! 

For those of you who have the flexibility, feel free to take a bind around that right knee. For a little less, take the pose in a fully seated (cross-legged or easy cross-legged) position without knee tucked in towards chest. 

Cobra Pose:

Laying on your belly, extend the legs back and place hands on the ground under the shoulders, keeping the elbows back and tight towards the body. Pressing hands into the floor, lift the upper body (head, shoulders, chest) slightly off the mat. Make sure to keep the tops of the feet pressing into the floor for this particular pose. For more in this pose, lift your belly off the floor.

Extend this pose by coming up onto toes and lifting the legs off the mat in an upward facing dog pose.

Sphinx Pose:

This pose starts our very similar to cobra, but instead of hands placed under shoulders, the forearms come down onto the mat completely, with the elbows under shoulders. Keep those legs long and the tops of the feet pressing into the mat. Lift through the chest, roll the shoulders back, and don’t forget to breathe!

Bow Pose:

In a facedown position, bend your knees, and reach back for your ankles with your hands. If you can’t reach you ankles, don’t stress: reach back for whatever part of your leg you can reach. Try to keep your shoulders rolled back, knees hip-width apart and breathe as you lift through your chest. Your thighs may lift, depending on your current flexibility.

Play with your hand placement on the inside and outside of the ankle to see what feels better for you. Modify this pose by only doing one leg at a time. For something more challenging, work on lengthening your arms and legs into a much more extreme variation of bow pose.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this back series coming soon!